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so you want to be a nutritionist…

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On a weekly basis I get a sweet email from someone who is a Nutrition major or someone who wants to make a mid-life change to follow their passion and move to a career in food and health. After writing similar emails week after week, I decided to just write a post about it since there are apparently a lot of you out there!

(photo source)

What kind of job do you have? What does a typical day look like? Do you have recommendations?

I can tell you what I do all day but… I’m not really a Nutritionist. Sure, I have a degree in Nutrition, but I’ve never had a full-time Nutrition job. Luckily through this blog, I’ve been able to ramble on about healthy food and even do some consulting work on the side to get my nutrition fix. (Thank you! 🙂 )

The truth of it is, as much as I love nutrition and food, it’s hard to know if I would choose the same major if I had it to do all over again. It’s not that I think I made a wrong choice, I fully believe that I got my first job at French Meadow Bakery partly because of my Nutrition degree, and that job led me to marketing and the combination of marketing experience along with a lot of the experience I had through this site helped get me my current job. I also wouldn’t have been involved with Camp Endeavor without my Nutrition background, so even though right now I wish I had gone to school for journalism, my Bachelor of Science has served me well.

When I was in college, I knew that I didn’t want to work in a hospital, but I did want to become a Registered Dietitian. I applied to internships (you can choose 3) but I was not matched with any of them. I was devastated. Towards the end of school (and especially after I realized I wasn’t going to get an internship) I decided that I wanted  to work in the natural food industry. I really enjoyed my time in the natural food world – but I was working in Marketing, not Nutrition.

I can’t tell you what it’s like to work as a Nutritionist, but I can still give you a few suggestions on how to get there through my own experience.

What do you recommend or suggest if I want to be a Nutritionist or Dietitian?

  • Decide what you want to do. (always an easy life question, right?)  If you want to work in a hospital or for a business that does consulting, chances are you’ll need to be an RD. If you want to do something else (not quite sure what that would be?) you might get away with just the degree. There aren’t a ton of jobs out there for a person who has a Nutrition degree but is not an RD. (there are a few jobs at WIC)
  • If you want to be a “health coach” or “holistic nutritionist” or whatever you decide to call it, you could always think about a program like the Institue of Integrative Nutrition. I absolutely love their philosophies. I always hear great things about the program and I do know a few people who work as health coaches very successfully (not sure if living in LA helps that).
  • If you want to become a Registered Dietitian, know that the internships can be really competitive.  I didn’t get chosen by the programs I applied to. (In my graduating nutrition class, about 30% of my fellow classmates who applied to internships got one). Be prepared to move depending on where you live. I think there were about 5-10 spots in Minneapolis when I was applying and you are competing with people across the country.
  • Get good grades. (this goes along with getting an internship)  Science was rough for me so my grades were not as high as they needed to be to get an internship.
  • Get working/nutrition experience. (this goes along with an internship but can also help to figure out what you want to do) Although I think that your GPA counts much more than experience, you want to have well-rounded experience to put on your application. (Working in the food service department of a hospital was AWFUL.)

Well what do you do?

Currently, I work as the Communications Manager for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and I absolutely love my job. It really isn’t nutrition-based at all, but once in a while I’m able to develop some simple recipes that can be made with foods from a food pantry or you know, someone asks me a nutrition question at work.

More questions? Leave a comment or email me: emily@anutritionisteats.com

Read Part 2 | Part 3 of the series!

 

Resources to check out: 

Eat Right http://www.eatright.org/  (Thanks to Maria and Lindsey for the suggestion!)

 

What do you want to be when YOU grow up?